The Hong Kong football team’s goalkeeper Yapp Hung-fai has thanked fans for their support despite losing to Qatar in the World Cup Qualifiers at Mong Kok Stadium on Tuesday night, while lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun criticised them for booing the national anthem before kickoff.

Yapp said on Instagram after the match: “Thank you fans for your support. The result was not what we wished for! I have never seen fans staying in the stadium to cheer for us even after we had lost! I was really touched during that moment!” 

However, Legislative Council member and deputy chairman of the New People’s Party Michael Tien Puk-sun questioned whether those who booed while the Chinese national anthem was playing “wanted to split the country apart” while speaking on a radio programme on Wednesday.

File Photo: Yapp Hung-fai (left) and Michael Tien (right).
File Photo: Yapp Hung-fai (left) and Michael Tien (right). Photo: Facebook/Hong Kong Premier League & Michael Tien

Tien said the act was “totally disrespectful,” and asked if fans were discontent about the national anthem, “What are you still doing [in Hong Kong]?” He added that he talked to Chinese leaders in Beijing when he attended the victory day military parade on September 3 about the issue of fans jeering at the national anthem.

John Tsang posed with a Hong Kong team jersey in Mong Kok Stadium.
John Tsang posed with a Hong Kong team shirt in Mong Kok Stadium. Photo: John Tsang/Facebook

Other political figures, like Financial Secretary John Tsang and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, also expressed their views on the match.

Tsang attended the match, where he cheered for the team and posed with a Hong Kong team shirt.

Leung said on his blog that the Hong Kong team “showed the Lion Rock spirit with the support of the fans… Rewriting the history that Hong Kong had never scored against Qatar.”

Hong Kong will face Bhutan in a match on October 13.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.